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‘Quantum data centre of the future’ is target after government award

Orca Computing graphic.jpg

Orca Computing has won £9 million in funding from the UK government to develop what it calls the quantum data centre of the future.

Kris Kaczmarek, Orca’s head of product, said that the company is also working with BT, Riverlane and other companies “to make classical data centres quantum-ready”.

Speaking to Capacity at a quantum technologies showcase in London, he said: “We are building quantum systems that integrate with data centres – integrating quantum and classical computing.”

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the government body that organised the showcase, said: “Orca Computing will research how quantum computing can integrate with the data centres that currently underpin and drive the digital economy.”

UKRI said that quantum computers “have the potential to revolutionise computing. As well as being faster than conventional technology allows, the way they harness the properties of quantum mechanics enables them to solve very complex problems that existing computers cannot.”

The £9 million for the Orca project is the largest project of 12, worth £50 million in all, that UKRI announced at the event.

The organisation said of the Orca project: “These data centres are huge system of systems, comprising thousands of components coming from a diverse, global supply chain. To account for the growing amount and complexity of data that needs to be processed these systems are becoming more complex, and quantum systems can help manage and secure this complexity.”

Kaczmarek said that Orca will lead on the quantum computing side in the project, with Kets, one of its partners looking after the quantum security side.

Glenn Manoff, CMO of Riverlane, said that its aim as part of the project is to build an operating system for quantum computing. “We’re not building the computer: we’re building the software.”

Orca was demonstrating its first quantum device at the showcase on Friday, a box that emits single photons – or quantums. “This is difficult to simulate classically,” said Hugo Wallner, a quantum scientist with the company. Orca expects to sell a number of these boxes in the near future.

UKRI said its grants, announced at the showcase, were designed to hasten the commercialisation of quantum technology.

Roger McKinlay, of UKRI’s commercialising quantum technologies team, said: “Quantum is no longer a technology of the future but a technology of today. These projects illustrate how quantum is now making an impact in many areas and will soon influence almost every facet of our lives, from computing and data security, to infrastructure and utilities such as water and energy.”

George Freeman, science minister in the UK government, said: “Quantum computing technologies have the potential to revolutionise the power of computing across our economy and society: from speeding up the development of new drugs, to climate change monitoring to the way we send and receive information.”

Orca said it is using a “novel proprietary quantum memory technology [that] allows room-temperature quantum computers to be built using optical fibre and industry-standard components for the first time, enabling robust, cost-effective, classical high performance computing- and data centre-compatible quantum systems”.

It adds: “This approach also provides a viable, faster path to scale to large, error-corrected quantum computing systems.”

Other awards in the £50 million UKRI announcement included:

  • £3 million for a project led by Arqit towards a quantum enabled cloud, for satellite-based communication networks;

  • £5.3 million to solve the problem of controlling qubits, a project led by Riverlane; and

  • £5.6 million to support the development of an error-corrected quantum processor solution for commercial quantum computing, involving Universal Quantum, with Rolls-Royce, Riverlane and others.

 

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